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Latest From the Blog

“A Life Well Played” documentary screening and live performance

Please join me on Sunday, June 25th, 2017 for a very special event.

Click here for details.

Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955)

I am currently reading a great deal about Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955).

Utrillo was a self taught painter born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris. His mother was the artist Suzanne Valadon. She studied with Degas and Renoir and is said that she was never quite sure who was the father of Maurice. She finally attributed the paternity to a lesser known Spanish artist Miguel Utrillo though he probably wasn’t the father either.

Maurice was a troubled soul his entire life and had a strong predilection for drink. In later life he became very religious and married an older woman after his mother died and he himself was 52. His mother took care of him for many years and after her death he sought a mother figure again in his older wife Lucy Valore.

Utrillo’s paintings are many and mostly street scenes of Montmartre. After 1910, his work which had previously been derided as “primitive” attracted critical attention. In 1928 the French government awarded him the Cross of the Legion d’honneur.

Until the end of his life however, he was interned in mental asylums repeatedly.

These days his paintings are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
C’est la vie.

Chrysanthemum

“Chrysanthemum”
(Composed and arranged by Reynold D. Philipsek, guitars played by Reynold, and keys by Gregg Inhofer)

I recently was looking through the many discarded song ideas that I have written down and strewn about in assorted stacks when one caught my eye. It was dated 5/14/10. Since Spring is upon us the idea of re-working a piece about a flower appealed to me.

I retooled some elements of the music by mostly taking things out because if I have learned anything it is that “less is more.”

The song owes a lot to Wayne Shorter. I am a great fan of his compositions and this one has elements that are not totally unlike “Fall” or “Nefertiti”.

The main section is 11 bars long and the Intro/Outro is 4 bars long. So the form fulfills my ambition for surprise, brevity and concision and the harmonies “open up” which is a good metaphor for a blossoming flower.

I also think the title “Chrysanthemum” has a certain ring to it that might appeal to Monk’s sense of mirth which amuses me as well.

The chrysanthemum is native to certain parts of Asia and North Eastern Europe.

I am joined by my longtime friend Gregg Inhofer on keyboard.
Click here to listen: Chrysanthemum

Bohemian Flats

Bohemian Flats
(written and performed by Reynold D. Philipsek)

Bohemian Flats, also known as Little Bohemia, was the informal name given a residential area of Minneapolis in the late 19th century. The area was the low lying river terrace on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

The area was named “Bohemian Flats” because of a high percentage of eastern European residents such as Slovaks, Czechs (Bohemians), and Poles. Naturally, since I have both Czech and Polish heritage, this fact interested me. The area became extinct in the early 1960’s, and is now a park.

This piece is one which I will revive for both trios (East Side and Sidewalk Cafe) for our summer gigs. I am very fond of this music. It derives it’s uniqueness in my canon from the contrapuntal interplay of the three voices. The arpeggiated chords, the sparse melody, and active bass line create a rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic counterpoint that is an area I want to pursue more actively going forward.

Click here to listen to the song: http://reynold.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Bohemian-Flats.mp3

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